“Take heart! Don't let anyone tell you that you have to ‘live with’ an anxiety disorder forever."
- Thomas Richards, Psychologist
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situation, it has become a disabling disorder. The major types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is characterised by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. People with GAD can't seem to shake their concerns, anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is characterised by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). People with OCD may be obsessed with germs or dirt, and may clean themselves over and over or they may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things or count things repeatedly. Performing repetitive task provides temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Panic Disorder is characterised by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress, nausea, numbness and chill. People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly with no warning. People who have repeated panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition and should seek treatment or they will avoid leaving home for fear of attacks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or be easily startled. Most people with PTSD repeatedly relive the trauma in their thoughts during the day and in nightmares when they sleep. These are called flashbacks. Flashbacks may consist of images, sound, smell, or feelings, and are often triggered by ordinary occurrences, such as a door slamming or a car backfiring on the street. A person having a flashback may lose touch with reality and believe that the traumatic incident is happening all over again.
How to Get Help for Anxiety Disorders ?
Check first with your physician to determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder or another medical condition, or both. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is usually seeing a psychiatrist. In general, anxiety disorders are treated with
medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both.
Once you start on medication, it is important not to stop taking it abruptly. Certain drugs must be tapered off under the supervision of a doctor or bad reactions can occur. If you are having trouble with side effects, it’s possible that they can be eliminated by adjusting how much
medication you take and when you take it. Make sure you talk to the doctor who prescribed your medication before making any adjustments.
~ National Institute of Mental Health